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Rosemary Shrager Cookery School in Tunbridge Wells closes due to Hadlow Group financial crisis

A cookery school opened by celebrity chef Rosemary Shrager has closed as a result of a college group's financial crisis.

The Hadlow Group, which runs the Tunbridge Wells cookery school, has had a difficult 12 months after both chief executive Paul Hannan and deputy chief executive Mark Lumsdon-Taylor were suspended amid an investigation into its finances.

Rosemary Schrager
Rosemary Schrager

The Further Education Commissioner - who recommends what actions college governing bodies could make to improve performance - first intervened at the start of the year and concerns remain, despite a positive recent Ofsted inspection.

Hadlow College and West Kent and Ashford College, also run by the group, have since entered education administration as discussions take place over other college groups in the county taking over courses.

Now, the cookery school, which the former I’m A Celebrity...Get Me Out Of Here contestant opened in The Pantiles in 2013, has announced its closure.

A statement on the school's website reads: "We regret to advise that owing to external financial pressures related to the well-publicised wider external issues at the Hadlow Group, the Rosemary Shrager Cookery School in partnership with Hadlow Group Limited could not continue to operate in its present form or in its existing location.

"The school has therefore closed with effect from August 8, 2019."

Pupils at a school event. Picture: Matthew Walker
Pupils at a school event. Picture: Matthew Walker

Graham Morley, interim principal of Hadlow Group said: “This has obviously been a difficult decision to take.

"However, the financial difficulties facing the cookery school has meant that it could not continue to operate in its current form or in its existing location.

“We hope to continue to work with Rosemary and are currently in discussion with her, and other partners, to explore future initiatives.”

The chef, who lives in the town herself, said at the time the school opened: “I cannot begin to describe how thrilled I am by my new cookery school.

"I absolutely love Tunbridge Wells, there’s so much to be excited about here – the Pantiles is already a foodie destination, but I hope that my school will really build on this wonderful reputation and encourage more visitors to this glorious part of the country.

Celebrity Chef Rosemary Shrager at Mascalls School, Paddock Wood, giving a talk. Picture: Matthew Walker
Celebrity Chef Rosemary Shrager at Mascalls School, Paddock Wood, giving a talk. Picture: Matthew Walker

“I want my cookery school to be a place for my students to come and really be inspired, learn new cooking skills and have fun too.”

Mrs Shrager is one of a number of celebrity chefs included in the line-up for the first Taste of Kent Food Festival in East Malling this weekend.

Read more: All the latest news from Tunbridge Wells

News from our universities, local primary and secondary schools including Ofsted inspections and league tables can be found here.

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